Ex-CFU leader: Not everyone can farm

via Ex-CFU leader: Not everyone can farm – New Zimbabwe 17/04/2015

FORMER Commercial Farmers Union president, Charles Taffs, has warned government against turning everyone into a “farmer” saying doing so was inviting “disaster”.

Taffs, who was speaking at the official launch of a new agriculture development company, African Farming Solutions, in Harare Thursday, said farming should be left to farmers if the country was to once again become the bread basket of the region.

“Not every citizen is a farmer and for real food security to be achievable farming must be left to farmers both small and large,” Taffs told delegates comprising former white commercial farmers, industrialists and politicians.

“Farming must be done professionally and to do otherwise is to promote poverty and perpetual dependency; and we must move away from this phenomenon”.

Once the bread basket of the region, Zimbabwe is now seen as a basket case following the haphazard land redistribution programme embarked on by President Robert Mugabe’s government from 2000 onwards.

Under the controversial land reform programme, experienced former commercial white farmers were replaced by inexperienced black farmers.

Since then, Zimbabwe has been failing to produce enough to feed its own people and depends on importing cereal and maize from neighbouring countries.

Taffs, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed African Farming Solutions, said Zimbabwe was failing to feed its people because of lack of modern farming methods on the part of the “new” farmers who continue to practice subsistence farming on commercial lands.

“Food security does not necessarily mean growing food for your family at a domestic level.

“We must move away from the notion that all farmers or families must grow maize,” he added.

“We must acknowledge that for Agriculture to become diverse, successful and sustainable there must be a combination of both large and small producers alike and to develop one at the expense of another is to invite disaster”.


  • comment-avatar
    ntaba 7 years ago

    Well said. It is a bit of a pity that the CFU did not take this stance 15 years ago when it was trying to suck up to Zanu and tell its members that “The CFU is part of this Zanu land reform project – we are working with the Government.” Many agriculturalists told the CFU that this was a dangerous road to take – but Cloete and Hasluck knew better! Now 15 years later we have an ex CFU President singing a different song to Cloete and Hasluck! The rule of Law and Title are starting point – not the CFU working with government as they (Govt) steal, burn, rape, and murder CFU members and their staff at will with no legal recourse for the complainants. Staff at the CFU (like Benjamin Freeth, MBE) were actually dismissed by the Zanu sympathisers at CFU for reading a prayer at Congress!! Holy Smokes! Non other than the President – Bobby the King of Horror – stole Iain Webster’s farm in the Mazowe Valley and basically put a gun to his head to make him sell his entire dairy herd to “The First Family!” And now, dear Jacob Zuma follows the dearer Thabo Mbeki and the dearest of all Professor Scoones – and tells us what a success it has all been and what a darling Bobby Horror is! Zuma, Mbeki and Scoones should sing that song in the heart of Matabeleland where Bobby Horror sent the Fifth Brigade in to murder 20 000 civilians – I mean go to Balagwe and Kezi and do it. Some times the truth takes a long time to come out – 15 years in the case of the CFU?

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    Malcolm Deetlefs 7 years ago

    Very true. I thought i had a good idea about how to farm as i was pretty successful growing vegetables in my big backyard in Bulawayo. Then tried to step up to 10 hectares of vegetables under flood irrigation. What a schock to the system. Fortunately there were two very experienced workers on the farm who took me under their wing. A long learning period began, and I now know I still don’t know enough.
    I was always amazed at how everybody in Zimbabwe thinks farming is easy. Even during my five year farming period i witnessed many farm failures, even though the ” New” farmers were getting free inputs, fertilisers etc. and even tractors– most failed big time.
    Perhaps the “new” farmers should have been selected from the original 1980 farm workers who did have some experience?

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    flo rence 7 years ago

    Our parents send us to school on the proceeds of subsistence farming of all kinds of crops, agricultural colleges have also put out willing participants . Large scale farming methods did a lot of harm to the soils because those farmers were after their millions and the ill gotten gains they pushed off with . If the climate and resource is right most africans given know how can cope with the rigours of farming.Its the best industry really for most people with limited education as proven by most countries east and west.I’m sorry ex-CFU leader ,dredging up the past in this manner when the facts are clearly questionable is misleading and biased. anyways we want positive messages to move on now, our kids deserve a chance.

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    I think you are getting a little carried away here flo, if I may call you that.

    Man is just saying that us blacks are no good at large scale farming and he is calling the tune right.
    In fact, we are no good at running anything, just look at our present administration, for want of evidence.
    Them guys couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

    An environment minister builds a 50 bed-roomed mansion when there is no running water,no regular power supply, no waste collection, no proper funding for health, pot holes galore, unpaid salaries, …… could go on.

    • comment-avatar
      Umwrong 7 years ago

      The best large-scale independent commercial farmer in my home (U.S.) state of Mississippi is a black man.

      “Black people” is a dangerous generalisations, and one man’s shortcomings could be another’s strengths.

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    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    I think the Land Grab will go down as the act of madness that destroyed the country. As we all know, it was to bribe the ignorant after Mugabe & Zanooo lost the constitutional “vote of confidence”.

    The lies told (and believed) were simply jaw-dropping. It was exactly like the Nazi attacks on Jews. I remember that at the start I advised farms to go on strike, simply to immediately stop farming. But I was told in the harshest terms by the CFU that I was being confrontational. I would have thought that having one’s property invaded was pretty confrontational!

    I also warned the CFU farmers that they should integrate better with the local communities, and this did not mean just having tea with the D.A. Like all society, some farmers were good and a few were bad, but destroying the whole of agriculture for political survival was madness!

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    Black boy. 7 years ago

    Taffs ! For president.Paint him black to make things easier.Why on earth can 5000 black farmers not feed the nation and beyond.Folks that paints an emberassing picture on us ,for all those how are willing to see the truth in front of their eyes.

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    Born 'free' 7 years ago

    I can stand before God and the world and swear,that not a single boy or girl from my generation, who went to school,passed or failed O’ levels, A ‘ levels, college or University had the aspiration after all that to go to his rural village (kumusha) and spend the rest of his life doing the same hard substistance farming his family did to feed him and send him to school.All over the world parents also always that their children have it better than they had.Now we have a whole bunch of educated people from my generation ,who are lost and had their dreams destroyed.Some of us can only hope that with selling tomates on the streets ,our children will have it better.

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    flo rence 7 years ago

    brother Ngoto above, you see, the the situation is a bit complex now and we can all finger point and spar until the cows come home . We have to acknowledge that we are where we r now and how do we move forward positively and inclusively.I believe we have to start with the marginalised, empower them to live fulfilling lives( so that there is less crime and pilfering from the haves if u like).We still have majority of our folk who are ready and willing to farm on good soils, those TTLs are just good for token homesteads.Land being such an emotive issue ,fair distribution of this would be good for those willing and able to .Without sounding preachy brother,I am with you on the difficulties in the current situation ie trying to ensure a better future for family. How do we put this across to the powers that be ? I believe showing an ambivalent and hostile attitude towards them can hardly be a way to turn them round to our point of view . You and us all have a huge task on hand to engage in shaping the political outcomes that we sorely desire through using our educated brains and respond to the likes of ex CFU leader as we r doing right now and more -ie the democracy of social media lol

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    The problem is that commercial farming is a business that cannot be conducted by cell phone. Anyone who has actual knowledge of farming will tell you that it is a bloody hard job and requires total dedication.

    Let us not forget that the Euros bought their farms and that even before 1980 any black person could also buy a farm. My one time neighbour Chris Kuruneri bought his and I think made a success of it.

    Putting the people they did on stolen farms was like putting a street vendor in charge of OK Bazaars – madness.

    This whole saga makes me mad – there is stacks of land, just that it is bush. Same as when the Euro farmers first got it. The reason why there were so few black farmers (and still are few REAL farmers) is that they didn’t want to do it.

    For most people a regular wage is far better, whether on a farm or in town. 99% do not have the ability or desire to successfully run a business or large farm. But the idiots in our “government” cannot understand that, and chase away those who do have the ability, both black and white

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    flo rence 7 years ago

    irrigation schemes in some provinces are quite productive ,small scale as they r and people there actually enjoy farming . they could do even better if they had tractors and such resource to ease the rigours. I could not keep my mum in town once she heard the roar of thunder , she fussed to go home back to the back breaking pursuit, the point being farming can be enjoyable and productive for people with know how.the politics of land is what has turned things upside down, its now so emotive a subject.funny one can say REAL farmers,yes the learnt the skill and pocketted the proceeds but the farm worker, we all know who that is ,worked their socks off for bass with token returns.So cormecial farming really had its flaws , so how do we correct that.Corrections kicked off to an appauling start as u say, not well thought thru.as it is farming and marketing the produce gets tricky when politics ai’t right and the possibilities of holding stuff to ransom and say I told you so creeps in. So we have to rise above all that , learn our lessons and plough ahead avoiding dwelling on the past , coz it takes time ,wastes energy .ooh the land question!